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Latest tales of the road

OK, so either I’m getting old and just have to accept that some of the things I used to be able to do without a second thought, I can’t now OR… well there isn’t an OR, that must be just it. The kind of stuff that if you went to your doctor feeling a bit worn out and then explained your recent activities, you can imagine the look of disapproval on his face. The fact is if you actually break down what an average day on the road consists of, then it all makes a little more sense. Usually a combination of loads of driving, loading and lifting, performing, eating and drinking, more loading and lifting, more driving, sleeping wherever and whenever etc. Now that’s all fine, but here lies the problem: it is usually in the wrong order. If you were an athlete and you went for a run, your routine would be fairly well thought out. First you’d eat all the right stuff to fuel you up properly and drink plenty of fluids, then after an hour and a half or so you’d start to warm up by stretching etc and getting your muscles loosened up. Then, you’d pop off on your little run taking with you a drink to keep you hydrated. Afterwards, you’d warm down by stretching again and then put on some warm clothes pretty much straight away. Fairly soon after that you’d eat lots of carbs to stock up on energy again and you’d drink loads and loads of water. Now if you did this in the wrong order, you would burn out pretty quickly and likely cause yourself an injury. Ahaa !!!! Now normally on tour we try and get it as close to the ideal as we can but of course on this tour, it’s a little harder as we are the opening act. I suppose the main difference is it all happens a lot quicker. We arrive at the venue and load in but we sound check last. Now in an ideal world a sound check should be pretty straightforward and once set up and switched on should take a mere ten minutes or so. Unfortunately, this is where things invariably get eventful. Surely a PA system and sound crew are there to basically make what the band do louder… i.e. we as a band provide the sound and then they put microphones in front of us to make it loud enough for you to hear!!?. Robin’s road crew are quite particular… and rightly so too. They want the sound to be as good as possible for the audience and so when they arrive at venues and half the PA is missing and there are no monitors whatsoever – they are gong to do something about it. Of course this takes time and so until it’s right we hang around until they’ve finished. For the support band this usually means chucking all the gear on stage about 20 minutes before your performance, switching on, trying to get some kind of monitoring so you can hear yourself, maybe getting some nice blasts of squealing feedback from the monitor guy who has wired his desk up back to front (while the audience is coming in)…..tuning up and then going for it only to have the monitor guy screaming ONE TWO ONE TWO down a mic that he has inadvertently channelled through to your in-ear monitor during the first song!….then rushing all the gear off stage again to make way for the main band. That was Saturday’s gig in Glasgow anyway. Sometimes it is much better as in last night at Norwich where the venue guys were brilliant… but sometimes it’s errr… not so good! The prospect of playing Newcastle’s Carling Academy was brilliant. So, Friday came and there we were. The sound check went according to plan as did the gig which was a lot of fun. Unfortunately it was the events that followed straight after that left us all a bit miffed. We were told to get our gear straight off by the venue people and were instructed to load off the front of the five-foot high stage. We thought they were taking it down to the dressing room area so we could pack everything away in cases etc. Oh no. They were loading it straight onto the street outside the venue. So down I came to see a big line of drums and guitars lined up along the path! The next twenty-five minutes had us scrambling about trying to get everything in cases before anything got damaged. It was probably this and a combination of not getting chance to wrap up warm that led to my injury of the week. My shoulder decided to give way and so the next morning had me booked into the local osteopath clinic! After an uncomfortable nights sleep I made my way for my 10am appointment. After an hour of.. err… whatever you call it…..I was told that my spine is out of alignment, my thingy neck muscle is knackered and that my back is pretty much not looking good. Great. The advice is rest, no lifting, no driving and no rocking. Yeah right!! So off we travel to Glasgow with Rich taking the wheel and me in the back complaining!!! It was on arrival at this gig that we realised we were in for a heavy night. Please refer to paragraph four for more details. So there you have it. Maybe that’s why Keith Richards looks the way he does.!? Uhhh? Oh, sorry…. no that’s not right is it? Anyway… the moral of this rant?? Well maybe it’s time to start looking after myself a little better. I mean I do but short of warming up for ten minutes prior to humping any gear and having a rider consisting of pumpkin seeds, umba gumba Eau der mineral, Chinese herbs and a personal crew of ten on the road with us…. It looks like we’ll be carrying on as we know it. Oh, and maybe I’ll dig out the yellow pages and find a local osteopath…. And the advice I’ll get? Stop, NOW! Tell next week!!

Bloggy May 13th 2008

Ahhh… a day off! How nice, and just when I think I have time to catch up on some much needed rest, my body decides that I shouldn’t be sleeping at all at this time of the day and insists I stay awake – typical! Oh well, so I log on instead and then suddenly realise that’s its… err… quite a while since I scribed anything!! Now, not feeling quite the full ticket today, I’ll just have to rely on good old-fashioned memory to update you. So, first there was the tour of Germany. Now don’t get me wrong, it was a fantastic experience doing all the touring over the past few years with the Caravan and then the double header tour but after a while I think we were all ready to go off again and do our own thing. In fact I’ve been with Jo and Spoons for two years now and this was actually the first time we had toured on our own outside the UK. Yes, we had a lot of fun. Joined by our German tour manager Florian, it didn’t take long before he was refusing to drive, instead wanting to sit in the back of the bus, drink Typhoo and watch Father Ted….. I mean the guy was hooked from the first episode! So for the most part our German companion was talking in a German-Irish dialect and calling us all Eejits!! When he did actually do some work, he was of course highly efficient (!!) and took to driving a right hand drive vehicle straight away. Any attempts to drive too fast were quickly curbed by pointing towards the polite notice on the speedometer: ‘80mph MAX or the boss kicks your arse”. Fast-forward two weeks and the itinerary sees us driving from Leicester to Austria in a day. Now not quite realising how far this actually was, it is not something we will be doing again in a rush! That first night we arrived at the town for next nights gig. I think I surfaced somewhere around 2pm the next day!! From then on we had it easy for a couple of days playing one night in Austria and then two more in Switzerland before a couple of days off. Looking at the routing, the next gig was in Holland…. and what should fall almost exactly half way to Holland? Our friend Thomas’ Winery in Germany. Of course we made the most of it and stopped off for some wine tasting. Now this is where I think we got it a bit wrong. We actually did the tasting at the end of the night. By this point we had already been there since early afternoon and had lost count of how many bottles we’d gone through. So there we were… staggering around as Thomas explained the finer points of how they make the wine and why it tastes the way it does. Funny, but I can’t remember a lot of it!! Next stop was Holland where we stayed with some more friends and carried on the eating and drinking relaxation regime that we seem to have adopted as a band. Next we rocked out at a couple of cool festivals before heading back to Blighty for a couple of days off before the tour we’ve all been looking forward to. So, to the first gig opening for Robin Trower. Not really sure what to expect, we play to the capacity crowd and get an amazing reaction throughout the set. Coming off stage I mingle and stand in the crowd to check out the main man. It was whilst I was here that I encountered probably the strangest and difficult to comprehend woman who, with her husband took up around five minutes of my time with the following: “Hi, can you do something about the sound? It’s not right. “Errr… OK, well it’s not really my place to say, I’m just the support band… maybe you could nip over and have a word with the engineer at the desk” “Well you’re one of them aren’t you, can’t you go and sort it out? It needs changing – too much reverb” “Errr….” “Well anyway, we thought your bit was really good, looks like you had fun….but all that guitar stuff you were doing (smiles and shakes head).. best to leave that to Clapton and Hendrix isn’t it really (husband nods in agreement)?” “Sorry, say that again?” “Well, it’s a bit old fashioned isn’t it, all those solos - very 70’s. I mean there’s a handful of guys who can do it but unless you’re one of them, best to steer clear really love. It just seems like you put in all those solos for the sake of it and lets face it, you’re not really on that level are you? Everything else you did though was great but maybe you should leave the Clapton and Hendrix stuff to Clapton and Hendrix. Anyway, we’d love to hear more” Suffice to say that I would like those five minutes of my life back. Fortunately the rest of the crowd were great as was Mr Trower who at 63 years of age can still play that geetar!! The next three gigs were also filled to the rafters with yet more wicked crowds: Really attentive. You see opening up to someone else’s audience, you’re never quite sure how the audience will be. Well, so far it seems to be going rather well – we’ve shifted bucket loads of albums and apart from the odd nutter here and there (more in a moment) the response from the people we’ve played to has been incredible. Now to round off this weeks Blog, I’ll leave you with another from the ‘nutters corner’! I think maybe one day I’ll write a book on the colourful characters we meet on the road but until then, I’ll just keep writing Blogs wink LOCATION: One of the last four gigs. SCENARIO: Security man comes backstage to warn me about an extremely annoying man waiting for me who claims to be from EMI and wanting to sign me on the spot. Now this rings a bell, as I am sure I have encountered this person before, some 12 months ago. Anyway, I go out and head for the merchandise table only to be stopped in my tracks by said man. Yes, it’s him again alright. “Aynsley, can I have a minute….you didn’t email me…don’t you want the deal with EMI then? This is your big break…… I’ve done all the prep work…. They’re just waiting for the phone call…… Why didn’t you email me?” “Sorry mate, I didn’t get an email… maybe you could send it again” “Well I sent it…. Facebook.” “I’m not on facebook” Ohh…… are you sure?…well I sent it anyway, give me your personal email then” “Sorry mate, just send it to myspace or to the website… either way it’ll get to me… if I get a mail I’ll do something about it” “Well they’re waiting for you to get in touch, the deal is waiting for you… just need to send ‘em a demo. I know all the guys that run the big festivals aswell, like I said before… can get you on any of them… they’re all my friends, just takes a phone call…….. …. And so it went on…. Pretty much the same as 12 months previous. Now allow me to shed some light here. I am not averse to people wanting to help, far from it – I really appreciate anyone who believes in what I do try and help me get onto the next level. Unfortunately though I have been doing this long enough to know if someone is genuine or just spouting complete bollocks at me! Lets just say that in this case it was most definitely the latter. If EMI did want to sign me, then they certainly wouldn’t send this guy to a gig! So there you go! I’ll try and update you after each bunch of gigs and who knows…. I might even be able to introduce you to more from ‘Aynsley’s colourful characters of the road’. So till next time, tatty bye ;0)

Pasties and tea at 120 km/h

“Spoons… stick the kettle on”… “Righto Skipper… would you care for a bite to eat… sausage roll, pasty, Doritos?”… “Ahh yes… a hot pasty and a cup of tea please” “Coming up….err… how many watts shall I set the microwave to..700? “Err.dunno” “Lets try full power… (Click) …your pasties are now going round and round….. how much further to the hotel?” “Satnav says an hour and ten” “OK…we’ll open some more wine then….(ding)..Hurrah… your food is done… tea on the way skipper”…. OK, so yes, we are behaving like kids…. but… well… why not? You see I could just write a blow-by-blow account of all the gigs we’ve done…. but…. well, that is the stuff you see. My mad ramblings are usually to do with the stuff that happens in the other 80% of the time we spend on the road… Well, we’d kinda got used to the bus the night liner company had loaned us and, well you know: it’s hard to go back once you’ve tried something isn’t it? However, with mine being built to the specific requirements we’d given them, it was going to be a bit different from the one to which we had become accustomed. Lets just say I was a little nervous about how it was going to end up. We’d initially chatted to the builders and described what kind of thing we wanted. It was going to be a complete custom one off conversion; but with no drawings or whatever, we didn’t actually know what it was going to be like until we saw it on completion. So the longer it took them, the more we got used to theirs thinking we would have been better off to just ask for exactly the same thing. But that would have been boring. Six long weeks passed and then came the phone to say it was finished. As soon as we saw it, any apprehension went straight out of the window; the guys have done an amazing job in interpreting what we wanted. Definitely worth the wait. It’s maiden voyage covered some 650 miles and so gave us plenty of time to get used to it. The general consensus is that it rocks and the other two members of the entourage are quite content to travel in there for hours at a time. It was however a stroke of genius on the part of the builders to locate the main power cut-off for the back by the driver; for any hideous choice of music coming from the back can be wiped out by the flick of a switch!! This has already been put into practice. The only other indifference so far has been which colour to set the lights on.. ahh the choices you have to make! Ok, so enough about that, I’m sure the novelty will wear off eventually! Of course with all the excitement over the last six weeks, it feels like it has flown by. I think we were all ready to be out again after a little break and we’ve had some cracking gigs. The most notable for probably all three of us was the 100 Club in London…. there’s something about that place. A fantastic turnout and what a great audience it was. You see for us, this is where we really notice things. As performers (in the loosest sense of the word), we feed off what we get from the audience. You guys kinda give us the fuel / energy to put on a show. Of course the venue will always have its influence but it is ultimately you who determine what kind of gig you get. If you’re having a good time, so are we. So there you go! We did actually venture out to a couple of new places on this tour aswell. The Studio in Hartlepool is a cracking venue and with a full room, we had a lot of fun there. This was also the night when our very own ‘lady-bass’ was left slightly bemused by the following very unique compliment: “I’m a bass player and even though you’re female, I still thought you were really good” Uhhh???? I mean what are you supposed to say to that? We do meet the most interesting people… and it’s not only Jo! Now before I continue, if you are of a nervous disposition or easily offended, then don’t read any further… “Good night mate, enjoyed it. So what are you doing for a job then… do they give you time off to go on tour n all that? OR “Is this CD any good? Is it like what you did tonight? Well I’ll take your word for it. ..coz if I get it home and it aint I’ll come to another gig and break your bl****ng arms” OR “Sorry, bar’s closed. I know you’ve been on stage all night but you shoulda ordered before we closed” Well that’s why we love every minute of it…. And if we could would we change it? Not a chance! More ramblings coming very soon! In the meantime thanks to everyone who came out to support us on this last run of dates and for those unforgettable moments that keep us all firmly on the ground!! Aynsley

Aynsley’s Tour Blog

…And so after our first four days on the road, we all get a few days off to recuperate! Much needed it is too….. this touring business is quite strenuous when you’ve not done it for a while you know. Well it was certainly good to be back on the road again…. After a few too many mince pies and wines it was what we all needed to get us back in shape. However, although we managed to stay away from the mince pies during this first leg, the same cannot be said of the aforementioned liquid. When the hospitality is that good you don’t argue do you? Well we don’t anyway! So…. to the gigs then….. We started off at The Half Moon in Putney. Now, the last time I was there I was doing a support slot........ I was about 19 I think and it was also the very first gig where I used my 335 – I had bought it the previous week. Still not sure if it was any good, any doubts were soon cast aside during the sound check when a certain Mr Otis Grand came and grabbed it out of my hands shouting “Give me that guitar, where did you get this?” whilst noodling away on my new toy. Next followed a decisive “I’ll swap you that Strat for it now” as he pointed to his main guitar for the evening. “Well actually, I already have one and I quite like this new one so… err… no thanks, Mr Grand” ….Looking a bit pissed off he wondered off letting me know that if I changed my mind he would be in the dressing room. Blah blah blah…..needless to say by the end of the night his offer had increased to more than one Strat, three if I remember correctly! Ha ha! Well, I still have it and so once again it graced the stage at this wonderful venue for a very decent crowd, especially considering it was Wednesday AND the Football was on!!! We had a cracking time and I think the fact we hadn’t played for so long and were that excited came across fairly clearly. Jo and Rich had obviously been shopping in preparation for the forthcoming tour and entered the stage with their new gear…. So two days later, I decided I fancied a bit of retail therapy too! What became quite apparent is that we’re all quite good at spending… in a very short space of time. Thursdays schedule took us to Bilston where we played the Robin with support from Dani Wilde. Just signed to Ruf, she is doing a few openers on the tour and on this first night; it was easy to see why. Blessed with one hell of a voice, this young lass did a cracking job. The crowd were fantastic and we should be back there before the end of the year. Climbing aboard what is now known as the ‘pimp wagon’ on Friday morning, we headed for Wales to Tregaron. With my own bus being a little delayed in the building process, the company have loaned me one of theirs until mine is done. Managing to make it through a whole box set of ‘The Office’ Jo and me chilled in the back whilst Mr Spoons took the wheel and got us to the venue for about 6. The kind of place where you’re never quite sure if anyone will come because it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere. However, we walked on stage to a great turnout and had lots of fun, people were up dancing from the first note and never sat down until we had done. Being a hotel, we stayed there for the night and woke to a lovely breakfast. The only downer was when the cleaning lady started freaking out at us because we hadn’t cleared the rooms by 11am…. I mean nobody told us! So, barely dressed, the key in the door turns (no knock) and in she trys to wander “It’s gone 12 now… I need to bring in my Hoover isn’t it” It later transpired that we were the only three people staying in the bloody place! Other than that, we had a lovely stay and took a drive through the Welsh countryside once again to the last gig of our little weekend jaunt – The Citadel at St. Helens. I really love this place, I can’t remember ever having a bad night there …always a great audience, turnout and the atmosphere is awesome. This time, my amp didn’t pack up after the third number like it did last time… for this time, I was plugged into my trusty old Marshall you see!!! Once again, we had Dani open up the evening’s entertainment before we wondered on to perform our new show. Ohh… did I not say?…. Yes, we have been messing around a little with the set and a couple of toones… but that’s something you’ll have to come and check! So, come and see us soon for some ‘ludicrously good’ fun (Nestle Clusters… isn’t it…) Aynsley

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